|Lower Warm Spring Canyon Road from miles 1 to 3 had declined slightly... to this! Still better than a "normal" year.|
Last week I repeated and expanded the complete south to north traverse of Death Valley National Park that I had scouted in February. How were the wildflowers holding up? What were the best locations? The Park has been issuing detailed reports, so let's use the March 2 and February 24 reports as a baseline, and I'll illustrate current conditions with my photos.
|Mile Marker 42, Badwater Road|
The bloom is definitely moving north and higher in altitude. Although there are still expansive fields of Desert Gold (Geraea canescens) along the Badwater Road, as well as carpets of Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa) from Mile Marker 42 to the end of the road, many of the other flowers in this area are past their peak.
My pick of the week is Highway 190. Look for the cheerful Easter egg colors of bright yellow Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes) and purple Notchleaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata) from Furnace Creek to the East Park Entrance. There are pink carpets of Purple Mat (Nama demissum) in some sections. (I think this flower was misnamed!) The ethereal, floating blossoms of Gravel Ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla) are growing thicker in this area than I've ever seen them before. Northwest of the Visitor Center, you will find the expansive fields of Desert Gold that Death Valley is famous for. All along the road, get out and look closer for more variety.
You will find Phacelia, Golden Evening Primrose, Mohavea (Mohavea breviflora), Acton Encelia (Encelia actoni), and Broad-Flowered Gilia (Gilia latiflora) on the Scotty's Castle Road. Although there are a few flowers on the approaches to Towne Pass and in the Panamint Valley, those areas are not yet worth a special trip. If you have a high clearance vehicle, do a little botanizing in the mid-elevations of the Greenwater Valley to increase your species count. There are not a lot of flowers blooming here yet, but there are a lot of different species, flowers you will not find in the lower elevations.
|Hole in the Wall (4WD road)|
For hikers, Fall Canyon and Monarch Canyon are good bets.
Happy flower hunting!
|Furnace Creek Wash|
The bloom is moving North! Check out the great color combo of Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes) and Notchleaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata) decorating Furnace Creek Wash from the East Entrance to the Furnace Creek Inn. Keep your eyes open in that stretch for expanses of Purple Mat (Nama demissum) and the rounded humps of Turtleback (Psathyrotes ramosissima). Get out of your car and take a stroll in the wash, and you may be amazed at the diversity. I was able to identify over a dozen species in a ten minute walk!
Along Highway 190 north from the Visitor Center to the Scotty's Castle Road, fields of Desert Gold (Geraea canescens) are starting to fill in the blanks. One new hotspot is the Beatty Cut-Off Road. The diversity in some places is nothing short of amazing. Try walking a wash between Mile Markers 2 and 4 to taste a bit of that diversity.If you are traveling to Ubehebe Crater or the Racetrack, the Scotty's Castle Road is adorned with the same gold and purple color scheme as the Furnace Creek Wash. Although there is not enough yet to warrant a special trip, look for expanses of Mohavia (Mohavea breviflora) , blooming Acton Encelia (Encelia actoni), and Broad Flowered Gilia (Gilia latiflora) in this stretch. Phacelia and Golden Evening Primrose are also brightening up the approaches on both sides of Towne Pass.
|Badwater Road Mile Marker 30, looking back at 25|
Greenwater Valley is REALLY green. Some flowers are starting to bloom there –I saw Fremont Phacelia (Phacelia Fremontii), Desert Dandelion (Malicothrix californica glabrata), Desert Gold Poppy (Eschscholtzia glyptosperma), Checker Fiddleneck (Amsinckia tessellate) , Blazing Star (Mentzelia sp.) and Globemallow ((Sphaeralcea ambigua) –but they are VERY few and far between still. In 2 weeks, this road will really pop.
Happy Flower Hunting!
|Alongside Badwater Road, nearly to Jubilee Pass|
|Spotted alongside CA-190 north of Furnace Creek|
For more photos, I've started a Death Valley 2016 album on my +Death Valley Workshops page, and a Death Valley iPhone 6S+ Photos album there as well.